A Simple Guide to Building an Engaged & Productive Team in 2018

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I recently overheard a conversation while waiting in line at Starbuck’s.

Two women stood before me, both in professional attire. One woman sounded resigned as she said to the other, “I never know what’s going on around there. I figure they’re either going to promote me or fire me. It’s hard to know which.” This statement caught me off-guard. How could a leader not let its employees know where they stand in the organization ? It got me to thinking about support and transparency and the obvious lack of it in some workplaces.

The Impact of a Non-Supportive, Non-Transparent Workplace

One thing I think is almost criminal? A company or supervisor making people worrying unnecessarily about their jobs. When someone is kept in the dark, they really have no idea if they are performing below, at or above the expectations of their supervisor.

Feedback is key to their ability to continue to improve and build upon the contributions they already make in an organization. If they don’t really know if they’re reaching or exceeding expectations, it starts to eat away at their self-confidence, work performance and even home life.

How to Create an Engaged Team

If you’re a supervisor, here are a few things you can do to help your employees feel more at ease and (very likely) perform better:

Give praise when and where it is due. If a job is well done, let your employee(s) know about it on the spot (don’t wait)! A little positive reinforcement can go a long way towards building a strong and loyal team and won’t leave your employees feeling ineffective and wondering if they’re headed in the right direction.

Provide as much transparency as possible. While some information needs to be kept under wraps due to company policy or privacy rights, anything that might impact your team and is within the limits of acceptable disclosure should be brought out in the open. For instance, if you’ve just gotten word that your right-hand person is leaving in a month, let everyone know. Otherwise they may hear it second or third-hand, putting the rumor mill into overtime and causing a lot of unnecessary anxiety and suspicion.

Give constructive feedback. No one likes to hear that they’ve made a mistake, but your delivery of this type of information can make or break your relationship and trust with your team. Let them know in a non-judgmental manner what the problem is, then offer a few solutions to correct it and/or keep it from happening again.

Shut down negative gossip. As common as it is sometimes, gossiping is perhaps one of the most harmful things your employees can do. It often creates falsely-founded biases that are hard, if not impossible to remedy. If you witness gossiping, handle it through the proper channels to ensure it doesn’t continue.

Provide support. Don’t make snap judgments about someone’s sudden change in attitude, work performance or ability to cope with stress. They may be going through an emotionally unbearable upheaval that is naturally going to find its way into the workplace, no matter how hard they try and avoid it. Instead of jumping to conclusions, give them access to all of the resources available through the company and provide solutions for taking some of the extra burden off them while they recover.

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